The Weather is Variable

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TBH by the Pepper Pot.

Photos from a week’s worth of walks from back in January. This first is from the Sunday, the day after the glorious Saturday which featured in my previous post. As you can see, the snow was gone and so too the blue skies and sunshine.

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The lights of Grange from the Cove.

Monday must have been another drear day, because I had a reasonably substantial stroll after work, but only took photos from The Cove when it was almost dark.

On the Tuesday, I didn’t start teaching until after 11 and so took the opportunity to have a wander around Jenny Brown’s Point.

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The path down from Fleagarth Wood

The weather was a complete contrast from the day before. I think it was even quite mild.

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Farleton Fell in the distance.
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Quicksand Pool.

The tide was well in.

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Smelting works chimney.
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Mergansers. I think.
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Jack Scout coast. Coniston Fells on the horizon.
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The drab, dingy weather returned on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Wednesday – Elmaslack Lane.

Around the village, people had put their Christmas lights up early and now left them up late.

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Thursday – The Green, another late afternoon walk.

Using MapMyWalk usually persuades me to take at least one photo on each walk, so that I can attach it the file for that walk. I quite like having a visual record even of the gloomy days.

Friday brought a hard frost in the morning.

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Frosty windscreen.

And the longest walk of the week in the afternoon (only about six and a half miles).

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Wigeon (male).

I actually took lots of bird photos, particularly of a Little Egret which was close in shore, but the light was a bit weird…

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Lovely, but weird.

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Rounding Arnside Point into the Kent I was surprised to see that Hampsfell and the other hills across the river had a covering of snow.

And then, when I climbed to Heathwaite, I discovered that we had some too…

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In fact, on the Knott, there was quite a bit…

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It was getting late, and I had the top to myself. I was disproportionately chuffed to have found some snow to crunch, and had a good wander around the highest part of the Knott.

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Obligatory winter photo of flooded Lambert’s Meadow.

The weekend brought more cloud and damp.

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On the Sunday, I walked our now habitual Sunday circuit around Jenny Brown’s Point not once but twice, in the morning with our neighbour BB…

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And in the afternoon, with TBH.

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The tide well in at Quicksand Pool again.

Over the eight days represented here, I walked around thirty miles. Hardly earth-shattering, but not bad for a week when I was working and when daylight was at a premium. Working form home is a completely useless way to teach, but, from a completely selfish point of view, I was all in favour.

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So, pop-picker’s, the post’s title is from a song which, I’m pretty sure, I’ve shared here before.

The weather’s variable – so are you
But I can’t do a thing – about the weather

Here’s another couplet:

You dislike the climate but you like the place
I hope you learn to live with what you choose

Anybody know it? It’s from an album called ‘Magic, Murder and The Weather’ if that helps?

The Weather is Variable

Snowy Scenes, a Murmuration and a Sunset

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With snow on the ground, a little bit of mist about and a fairly clear sky, worth getting out for an early work. Not that you need to be up that early here in early January to catch the sunrise.

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The mist hides the village.
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I had a short walk, across the fields and then up into Eaves Wood.

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Later I was out again and did a very similar walk with the next door neighbours who had a chore to do at the Silver Sapling campsite, probably breaking the rules in some way into the bargain.

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Our friend BB.
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Silver Sapling.

Later still, I was out on my own again, wandering around Jenny Brown’s Point. The light was superb.

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Right through the winter, there’s a really impressive Starling Murmuration and roost at Leighton Moss. Of late, I haven’t made the effort to get down there to see it often enough. On this occasion, as I walked along the top of the small cliffs of Jack Scout, part of the murmuration flew along the coast behind me and swooped past me following the cliffs. Usually the Starlings fly just above the treetops, but this time, where there weren’t any trees, they were low, hugging the cliffs, and so I was enveloped in the flock and in the astonishing whirr of thousands of wings. It was breathtaking. They came around three or four more times, but never quite so close.

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The sunset was highly impressive. I watched for ages, taking lots of photos (on my phone, I didn’t have my camera with me). When the cold started to seep into my bones, I set off for home, but then, looking behind me, realised that the colours had intensified even further. I went back to the clifftop to take more photos, but then my phone’s battery died.

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Unlike my camera, my phone seems, if anything, to rather underplay the colours of a sunset. This one really was spectacular. Especially after the battery had died. You’ll just have to take my word for it!

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Another very memorable day, chiefly because of the Starlings.

Snowy Scenes, a Murmuration and a Sunset

Walk, Don’t Walk

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New Year’s Day – back on Castle Barrow. Note the snow on Ward’s Stone.

So we went back to work. Then we didn’t go back to work. And so began the second lockdown. In the first lockdown, we were expected to set and monitor work for students; this time the emphasis was very much on live lessons online. I was surprised by the impact of sitting down all day (mostly on my back and shoulders), something I’m not used to at all.

At least, with no commute, I could get out for a stroll as soon as work was done. I have a lot of sunset photos from the Cove from that first week of January…

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Also, because we stuck with our revised timetable, mostly consisting of two hour lessons, when I had frees they were long, sometimes even three hours when lunch was included. This meant that, at least once a week, I had an opportunity to sneak out for a longer walk, deferring my planning etc until the long dark evenings.

It was a cold week: this is Bank Well, frozen over on the Thursday…

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And then, on the Friday, it snowed. A and B were unusually keen to join me for a walk late on a Friday afternoon. (S had already set off to the Lots with a sledge and his friend T).

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By the time we reached Lambert’s Meadow (which, often very wet, was frozen over), it was coming down thick and fast and settling rapidly.

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This…

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Is the last photo I took, principally, I think, because it was getting dark. We headed down to The Lots to meet S and T, and found lots of children and parents from the village sledging on the humps and hollows there in the dark. Everybody was in good spirits and by responding exactly as we usually would to these unusual circumstances, it felt like a moment of light relief and somehow a brief return to normality of some kind.

The next day was a good one too. I took a lot of photos, so I’ll leave that till my next post.

Walk, Don’t Walk

Reflections and Frostprints

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So – the blog has advanced to the final couple of days of last year. These photos are from a beautiful, still day when TBH and I took one of our favourite wanders around the coast to Arnside.

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As you can see, with no wind, both the sea and the River Kent were mirror calm and reflecting the lovely blue skies.

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Frozen footprint.
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The retreating tide had left a line of ice in its wake. It must have been pretty cold!
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There were a few ‘icebergs’ in the Kent – presumably they’d survived the trip down the river from where there was snow in the hills.
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Arnside Viaduct, snowy Eastern Fells behind.
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Although it’s slightly hazy on the left, this is my favourite photo from the day.
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Lunch, from the Old Bake House, on the prom.
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We took a fairly direct route back, not climbing the Knott. You can see that the field edge below the woods, having been in the shade, has retained its frost all day.
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Late light on Arnside Tower.
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Holgates Caravan Park was busy, even the touring section. I hope these caravans had good heaters!
Reflections and Frostprints

Early Frost and Mist, Late Winter Light

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TBH approaching Hawes Water

The day after my walk with X-Ray. Another two walk day, a circuit around Hawes Water mid-morning with TBH when the frost and mist was still clinging-on.

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A misty Hawes Water

And then an ascent of Arnside Knott.

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Flooding by Black Dike.
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Arnside Tower
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Arnside Tower staircase.
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Arnside Tower doorways, windows and fireplaces.
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Low light in the woods on Arnside Knott.
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Kent Estuary, Hamps Fell and Grange.
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Snowy Lakeland Peaks.
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Whitbarrow catching the sun.
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The Bay from the Knott.
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Arnside Tower Farm, Eaves Wood, Warton Crag and Clougha Pike on the horizon.
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That flooding again.
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Two more views of the Cumbrian Fells, a little later in the afternoon.
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I looped around the top, so that I could return to the viewpoint by the toposcope for the sunset.

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Morecambe Bay sunset.
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Hardly spectacular, but any day which finishes with a sunset from the top of the Knott has something going for it!

Early Frost and Mist, Late Winter Light

A Walk with X-Ray and Boot Review Update.

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X-Ray on the Lune Aqueduct, just before he produced a flask of tea and two cups from his bag. What a gent.

X-Ray has appeared on this blog from time to time over the years. He’s an old friend who is always great company on a walk. We play in a pub quiz team together, but the pandemic put paid to that and when he rang me over Christmas I realised that I hadn’t seen him since the start of lockdown. A get together seemed called for and we eventually agreed on a walk around Lancaster. It was a glorious sunny day, lots of other people had a similar idea to us and were out for a post Christmas ramble in the unexpected sunshine. I probably should have taken a few more photographs, but X-Ray and I had a lot of catching-up to do, and anyway, whenever we get together we seem to able to fill several hours with non-stop conversation. On this occasion, without really realising it, we managed eight miles of blether before we’d found our way back to X-Ray’s flat.

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Freeman’s Pools

We talked, among other things, about work; the pandemic, of course; pensions I seem to remember – probably an age thing; and about shoes. X-Ray had been reluctant to come for a walk from Silverdale to Arnside because he has no comfortable walking boots. For our walk he was wearing, I think, a pair of trainers with part of the toes removed. He finds it very difficult to buy shoes or boots which are wide enough for his feet, as do I. I told him about my Altberg boots, which I bought at Whalley Warm and Dry and which, after 5 years of use, are a little scuffed but otherwise as good as new. In fact, I’m wearing them more and more, as I find that they are consistently the most comfortable footwear I own. Anyway, X-Ray rang me last week and told me that he has an appointment next week at Whalley Warm and Dry to get some boots fitted. Hopefully, he can find something which is a good fit, and then we can get out for a walk somewhere a little further afield. Remembering our chat has also got me thinking about maybe going back myself to try a pair of Altberg shoes.

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Talking of kit, we were out for a family walk later that same day, after sunset, to try out a Christmas present, a wooly hat with an integral head-torch.

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As you can see, although the sun had already set, the light was rather nice.

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I was jealous of B’s hat which, as well as a light, incorporates bluetooth headphones. What a great idea!

A Walk with X-Ray and Boot Review Update.

Back to Nicky Nook

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A view to Black Combe.

Having enjoyed my walk on Nicky Nook in the autumn, I wanted to return, TBH joined me on a gloriously sunny Christmas Eve. Having tackled the hill from the west last time out, this time I thought we’d climb it from the east. We parked at Grizedale Bridge and then dropped downhill a little to the farm at Fell End. TBH was slightly sceptical about this choice, rightly as it turned out: the field was completely water-logged.

Once past the farm however, the going got much better. The route up offered expanding views and very soon brought us to the top.

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Harrisend Fell.

It was very busy. Perhaps I should have anticipated, on such a clear bright day. We even bumped into a colleague and her family, ex-pupils of mine.

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Looking across The Tarn to Black Combe again.
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Harrisend Fell, with Clougha, Grit Fell and Ward’s Stone behind.
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Meanwhile, back at home, A wanted to do something creative, and spent her day making a ginger-bread house…

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Clever isn’t she?

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I’ll let you in on the secret of the windows, just so long as you keep it to yourself: Fox’s Glacier Fruits melted down apparently. And then baked with the gingerbread I imagine?

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Our Nicky Nook walk was only short. We had a slightly longer walk later, ostensibly to deliver Christmas cards to our friends in the village, but we also managed to squeeze in a visit to The Cove. The photo, though, was from Christmas Day, when the weather had deteriorated somewhat, but was fine enough for a late afternoon turn around The Lots.

Christmas Day was much quieter than usual for us. It was nice enough, but, well, not quite the same, without the house full we’ve come to expect. On Boxing Day my in-laws visited. The first time we’d been able to get together since the summer, so it was great to see them.

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A also made a few gingerbread and fruit sweet Christmas tree baubles.

This coming Christmas, do you think I can have clear blues skies on Christmas Eve and a big family party on Christmas Day too? Here’s hoping.

Back to Nicky Nook

Not Missing the Point

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Photos from three consecutive weekend’s walks around Jenny Brown’s.

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This first set are a bit odd, because there’s plenty of blue sky over the Bay, but it’s grey inland and the light is very flat.

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Must have been a Sunday morning walk, which is generally when TBH and I chose to have a wander together.

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We finished across the sands, which we didn’t often do, and they weren’t quite as firm and dry as we’d anticipated, but firm enough, fortunately – no quicksand drama to report! Hard to tell in the photos, but the Coniston Fells had a covering of snow.

This photo…

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…on the other hand, was clearly from a late afternoon walk; the warm light is a giveaway.

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I remember this walk well. Unusually, I was on my own, I don’t remember why.

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I finished across the sands again and, even close in shore, being out there on a winter afternoon as the light faded and the lights around The Bay came on, felt quite wild and special.

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Finally, one photo from another rainy walk around the point. On our regular walks we’d watched Quicksand Pool undercut the high far bank of the channel. We’d often hear the clump and splash of a section falling away. It was interesting to see, each week, how the bank and the channel had changed.

Not Missing the Point

Company on Calf Top

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Uncle Fester in Barbon

The title says it all really. The restrictions were relaxed, some meeting up outdoors was allowed again – at last. So we arranged to meet in Barbon for a walk.

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Barbon Church

Despite having the least far to travel, we were, inevitably, the last to arrive. Or we would have been, had not the Yorkshire contingent parked in Barbondale, near Blindbeck Bridge I think. Somehow, for reasons I never quite fathomed, this was my fault. Not to worry, we were eventually assembled and ready to embark.

Incidentally, A had driven us to Barbon and would later drive back too. One unexpected consequence of the lockdowns has been that she hasn’t been able to have many driving lessons, so it’s fallen to me to teach her. It was a bit nerve-racking at first, but ultimately, a nice way to spend time together. Hopefully, she’ll soon manage to get a test booked.

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Waxcaps

Our route took us to the highest point in the Middleton Fells, Calf Top, and then back by the same route. (An alternative plan to drop down into Barbondale and return that way was abandoned because the sun was shining and leaving the ridge would have meant dropping into shadow, which seemed a shame.)

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Waxcaps?

The grassy, lower slopes of Eskholme Pike were decorated with lots of colourful Waxcaps. And also clumps of yellow stalks. I couldn’t decide whether they were also Waxcaps, perhaps in a more or less advanced stage of their life-cycle?

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Across the Lune Valley. Lakeland Fells on the horizon. Howgills top right.
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Thorn Moor

The Middleton Fells give easy walking, without any particularly steep climbs, and expansive views.

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TBH takes a nap. Snow-capped Lakeland Fells in the distance.
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Crag Hill.
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Professor Longhair leads the way.
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Calf Top from Castle Knott.
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Looking over Howegill Head to the distant Lakeland Fells.
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On Castle Knott.
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A negotiates a boggy bit.
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Looking back to Castle Knott.
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Crag Hill. Whernside in the background (I think).
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Nearing the top.
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The Howgills
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TBH next to the (unusually) decorated trig pillar.
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Looking down to the Lune valley.
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Retracing our steps from the top.
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Eskholme Pike
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…good place for a very belated lunch and brew.
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It would have been a good day’s walking in any circumstances, but throw in the opportunity to see friends with whom we’d missed several regular annual get-togethers, and the fact that I’d not ventured off home territory much for some months and this became a really special day out. When we said our goodbyes, we agreed not to wait too long before we met for another walk.

Company on Calf Top

November: On the Home Patch

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Sunset from The Cove
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Post sunset light from The Lots

People were going further afield for their daily exercise. I knew this. Every day we drove past the Eaves Wood car park and it was full. I could read about it on blogs. People I met on my walks recounted trips to the Dales and the Lakes.

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Post sunset light from The Lots

And I would be doing the same. Soon, very soon.

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Tree trunk near the mouth of the Kent.

But somehow, I didn’t get around to it.

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Flooded fields from Arnside Knott

I wasn’t particularly worried about what might happen, or any potential consequences.

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Late afternoon skies from Castlebarrow…

I’m a creature of habit. I just seemed to be stuck in a rut of sorts.

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And The Cove.
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Fungi.

Still, there are worse ruts to be in!

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I was still getting out a lot. Frequent visits to The Cove, The Pepper Pot, and around Jenny Brown’s Point, usually with TBH.

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The weather was a bit mixed, to say the least.

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“See that storm over yonder, it’s gonna rain all day.”

This was a memorable walk. The tide was exceptionally high. So much so that we had to turn back and couldn’t get around Jenny Brown’s because the the salt marsh was inundated.

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All of this is usually green!

It was also very windy and squally, with very heavy showers.

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We walked across Quaker’s Stang which was completely exposed to the wind off the sea, and made for very bracing walking.

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The RSPB car park for Allan and Morecambe hides was flooded.
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More fungi.
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Waves (of a fashion) at Jack Scout.
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The lights of Heysham and Morecambe from The Cove.
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Another high tide at Jack Scout.
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The salt marsh when it isn’t underwater! Warton Crag behind.
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Warton Crag again, across Quicksand Pool.
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Jack Scout Rainbow.
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Towering cloud catching late light from The Cove.
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Arnside Prom.

So – I’ve dismissed November with a solitary post again.

What would break my out of my routine? I needed an external stimulus, an intervention you might say…


Here’s something I haven’t done for a while – a tune for the end of the post. I absolute love the interplay of voices on this Levon Helm track….

November: On the Home Patch